Terrific Scientific in Class Four

The Super Taste Test – does food taste the same to everyone? 

Class Four have really enjoyed investigating the science behind taste.  They learned that super tasters experience bitter tastes more strongly than other people; this is because they have a higher number of taste receptors within fungiform papillae, the big pink bumps on your tongue which contain your taste buds, enabling you to taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.  By counting the number of fungiform papillae, they were able to determine whether they were a super taster, taster or non taster.

We developed the following activity instructions to enable us to carry out our investigation:

1. Ask everyone taking part to wash their hands.
2. The person who is going to have their fungiform papillae (pink bumps) counted first needs to sit down comfortably with their elbows on the table, supporting their chin.
3. Place a cotton bud into the mini cup of blue food dye until it is well coated.  Ask the participant taking part to stick their tongue out. Using the cotton bud, coat the front third of the child’s tongue with the dye.
Only dip the cotton bud in the food dye once. Discard the cotton bud once it has been used.
4. The blue dye will stain the tongue but slide off the prominent pink bumps known as fungiform papillae.  Each bump contains three to five taste buds.
5. Next, ask the participant to carefully place a hole-punched card on their tongue over the blue food dye.
6. Ask the other children in the group to count how many pink bumps they can see on the tongue inside the hole.  The participant needs to try and keep their tongue still.